12 Truths Every Costco Shopper Understands

by Karen Johnson
Steve Russell / Getty Images

When we relocated recently to a new state, we had the typical list of concerns. We needed enough bedrooms to ensure our kids didn’t kill each other. I really wanted to be on a cul-de-sac so I could let them run amok in the street and be the free-range parent I aspire to be. My husband was adamant that we have a huge, flat yard, with room to play baseball and grow a garden. We had a school district chosen, and were looking within a 35-minute commute to my husband’s job.

And, of course, as we were house hunting, we quickly scoped out the nearest Costco.

As a family of five, we purchase ALL of our meats, fruit, toilet paper, paper towels, laundry detergent, school snacks, home snacks, allergy meds, bottled water, diapers, eggs… (I could go on for days) at our beloved Costco. Wine? Buy that shit it in bulk. TV? Costco. Lawn chairs? Costco. Easter baskets? Costco.

You get the idea.

So, as a person who hits up this wholesale establishment weekly, I feel like I can adequately say that I know a thing or two about what it’s like to fork over huge piles of cash and push a cart full of socks, BBQ ribs, and a beer fridge to your car. Because I have. Many times.

Here are 12 truths you’ll experience if you’re a Costco-lover like me.

1. You’ll make a list, and have a budget, and then you’ll laugh at how silly you were. You will spend $256-$289 dollars more than anticipated (How did I come up with this figure? There was a study conducted at the University of My Wallet and these were the results.)

2. You will buy a kitchen faucet, patio furniture, and five books you’ll never read, despite only entering the store for chicken and hamburgers. Also, you don’t have a patio.

3. If your cranky kids are with you and you’ve promised yummy samples to encourage good behavior, the only choices offered will be salmon, beet soup, and wafer crackers. The pizza sample stand and the hotdog wrapped with croissant stand will both run out promptly as you approach with your hangry toddler.

4. You will still try the wafer crackers, however, and awkwardly linger like you might purchase the barely edible cardboard in order to appease the sweet sample lady, who keeps shouting, “$12.99! Get your box here! Healthy snack!” She reminds you of your grandma and you don’t have the heart to tell her that your family wouldn’t eat that shit even if we slathered it in candy-flavored whipped cream.

5. You may not buy wafer crackers, but you will find yourself tossing at least one sample into your cart, which means you now have a box of 94 egg rolls. Hope the fam is excited about a little fake Chinese food. Every day. For a month.

6. There will never be an employee to help you find something. The only people who work at Costco are elderly employees who know one thing—where you can find the dark chocolate or hummus they are peddling—and the cashiers. The giant space in between is no man’s land.

7. When you fall in love with a product, Costco will cease to sell it ever again (or at least not until you have mourned long enough and moved on). I’m still not over the margarita chips I had one time in 2015…

8. If you hand your child the receipt to hold because he wants “the job” of handing it to the employee at the exit, your sweet cherub will promptly lose it in that 25-second period of time between leaving the register and exiting the building. And then you will be exiled to Costco jail for all eternity.

9. Costco’s cafeteria is the best deal around. As a family of five, our pockets feel the hit when we try to eat at a restaurant, so we frequent the Costco picnic tables on Saturdays and Sundays quite often. The pizza slices are enormous and like two bucks. But your kids will insist that they can eat an entire slice, despite the fact that they’ve never consumed an entire slice. Fine, you will say, and will buy them an entire slice. They will eat 4 bites and be full. Your lunch will then be the last bites of whatever is on everyone else’s plates. (You know this game. You play it every day at home.)

10. As you put a box of frozen tilapia in your cart (because you’re on a health kick and say things like “We should eat more fish!”), your child will announce he has to poop. He will lose his Transformer on the 1/2 mile long walk to the bathroom. You’ll never see it again. He will wail, because you can’t have a Costco trip without a meltdown.

11. If you have small children, you will optimistically start your Costco visit with them contained in your cart. By the third aisle, your toddler will be sandwiched uncomfortably between a 10-pound bottle of laundry detergent and a bag of frozen chicken. He’ll beg to be let out, which you’ll be forced to do since you still have toilet paper and boxes of wine to buy, and you’ll now spend the rest of your shopping trip chasing him from sample station to sample station. (And looking for the transformer.)

12. While checking out, the cashier will somehow convince you to upgrade to the more expensive “Elite Membership,” which is helpful because now you’ll get better deals on cars and vacations that you’ll never actually purchase.

You love it though. And despite draining your wallet and putting on 10 pounds of “sample Ghirardelli brownie” weight, you’ll be back. Because on Saturday mornings, when you need chicken nuggets, a spring plant to bring to Grandma’s house, and a box of 5,000 baby wipes, there’s no place you’d rather be.